Why this lab?

test 01


Waste is a systemic problem; simultaneously cause and result of many global challenges. Waste provokes environmental degradation yet is the long-lasting legacy of the prevailing linear economic model. Can we move beyond waste? This implies a substantial transformation of our consumption habits and production methods. In turn, this involves deconstructing our cognitive models and social conditionings.



The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are spurring a new wave of collaborative action linking business, government, academia and civil society (quadruple helix model). They openly collaborate in order to support concrete initiatives and develop innovative solutions that tackle global challenges by taking local action. What if transformative change stemmed from actors of an ecosystem thinking of themselves not as individuals, but parts of a greater whole?

test 02


Global natural resource depletion and climate disruption point to the increasing obsolescence of extractive, linear economic models. At the leading edge of innovation are business models that are environmentally regenerative and socially responsive, new regulations and policy frameworks, alternative narratives and more. A prototype is a landing strip for the future, a way to explore and test an idea, a conscious act lowering the threshold between thinking and action.



Systemic change happens when a paradigmatic transformation occur at several levels of a system in a concerted way, departing from their interrelatedness and interdependencies, and in turn affect the individual behaviour of social agents within the system. We will achieve systemic change in our region when Sustainable Living (SL) become the norm amongst our region’s inhabitants. We define SL as an approach to social and economic activities, for all societies, rich and poor, which is compatible with the preservation of the environment, well-being for all and good governance. Actors in the Métropole Lémanique region are in a unique position to become a world reference in terms of collaborative innovation for systemic change.

What do we expect from this lab?

Find out all our answers in the Co-Creators section

Social labs have three defining features:

  • Social – they bring together a diversity of stakeholders who are affected, directly or indirectly, by the challenge at hand;
  • Experimental – it uses methodologies that drive innovation through learning-by-doing, trial-and-error & iterative processes;
  • Systemic – it aims to address the root causes of problems rather than providing solutions to symptoms.

Hassan, Z. (2014). The Social Labs Revolution. Brussels: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

We thus expect to step outside our comfort zone to try a new way of being and approaching problems. Also, to build relationships and collaborate with people vastly different than ourselves, and prototype together solutions linked to water, plastic and electronic waste for a specific sector of the Vaud economy. Through our cross-sectoral leadership approach, solutions will be carried forward and involve wider public participation. Our aim is systemic change.

Find out more about System Leadership here.

A prototype in itself, this social laboratory is a first attempt at addressing the deep disconnects that lay the root of unsustainable consumer behaviour. An unusual response to complex challenges, we propose to work on enhancing the human factor, to radically reassess our way of being before to even think about designing solutions. Read more in: Why A Social Lab?

While we cannot predict the results of this process with exactitude, such processes regenerate different types of capital that are necessary for circular economy transformation, including natural, social and financial.

Beyond Waste – Circular Resources Lab
2018 Cohort